The state media Sunday claimed that Tsvangirai’s top position as MDC-T president is not safe as Mr Tendai Biti, the secretary general of the party, is reportedly eyeing the post, amid revelations that high ranking officials in the party are quietly lining themselves up for the upper rungs of the MDC-T leadership positions.
Behind the scenes, named MDC-T members of the national council are making post election calls in an effort to grab key positions. If the faction led by Mr Biti fails to remove Mr Tsvangirai and his allies through a vote of no confidence, they will wait for the term of office of the national executive to expire in 2016.
Mr Biti is said to be leading a faction that believes Mr Tsvangirai should step down as he was given enough chances to remove President Mugabe from power. It is also reported that the replacement of Mr Tsvangirai would lead to a domino effect as the next generation of MDC-T leadership could want to see Mr Tsvangirai’s fellow national council bigwigs retired.
MDC-T Bulawayo provincial chairperson, Mr Gorden Moyo, is said to be quietly lining himself up to dislodge Mr Lovemore Moyo, the party’s national chairperson. MDC-T national organising secretary, Mr Nelson Chamisa, is earmarked to replace Mr Biti as the secretary general of the party.
Mr Obert Gutu, MDC-T’s spokesperson for Harare could be named the new organising secretary of the party.
Ms Thokozani Khupe’s and Mrs Theresa Makone’s top hierarchy positions as deputy president and national women’s assembly leader respectively, are safe.
Reports are that the battle lines are being drawn along regional lines thus Matabeleland’s Mr Gorden Moyo’s ascendancy to the national chairman’s position is likely to be challenged only by the current chairperson, Mr Lovemore Moyo, who is also from Matabeleland.
“It’s going to be a question of how serious does the MDC-T want to have change from within. If these guys who want power take it seriously and if calls for a post election evaluation according to the party’s constitution, then I think we will have fireworks. If they don’t, then you are going to see a lot of in-fighting and factions now until the elections in 2018.
“You are going to see some people who are going to put up a serious fight and ultimately you will see a bit of house cleaning. We don’t consider this to be a coup. This is a long-term approach to taking the party back to its founding principles. We expect it will take us a long time to clean up the mess but we will be ready for the 2018 elections,” the source said.
Party members are devastated by what they see as a lack of leadership and have lashed out at those at the top – especially those who they perceive to have missed the golden opportunity to effect change while sitting in Parliament for the past five years. The party’s long-standing treasurer, Roy Bennett, resigned last week saying he was utterly frustrated at the arrogance of those in leadership.
News of the coup in the making has reached Mr Tsvangirai and he responded by summoning the party’s leadership to an emergency meeting which was held yesterday. The meeting is a desperate attempt to hold his party together in the face of widespread frustration, anger and despair following the heavy election loss.
In an interview, Mr Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC-T national spokesperson rubbished reports emanating from his party, that some top MDC-T officials were planning to replace the current leadership.
“The position of the MDC is that there is no change of leadership. The current leadership will serve its full term until it expires in 2016. Only in 2016 will the positions be up for grabs and those who think they can lead the party better will have a chance to put their names forward and contest. For now we stand solidly behind Tsvangirai and his leadership.
“We want to encourage anyone who is being pushed by Zanu-PF to stop what they are doing. We know that there is a lot of misinformation that is being spread in an effort to cause despondency within the party. I have had the opportunity to check with those gentlemen who are said to be behind the so called revolt and all of them have assured me that there is no truth in the allegations. They are fully behind the current leadership,” said Mr Mwonzora.
Mr Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Mr Luke Tamborinyoka, also dismissed reports that Mr Tsvangirai was in the eye of a storm.
“It is hogwash. Leadership is an issue for congress. The party’s national council which is the supreme body outside of congress, met recently and affirmed Tsvangirai as the party leader. We are a democratic party and congress is the only platform for leadership challenges. Anything else is just bar talk or emanating from Zanu-PF. Tsvangirai is a victim of fraud and there is no way that we can be tempted to victimise the victim,” he said.
Mr Tsvangirai’s position as MDC-T president is under threat as party members believe that he has failed to bring the change he promised and they want a new leader to stand for presidency in the 2018 elections. MDC-T members are questioning Mr Tsvangirai’s leadership as they believe he does not possess the leadership to change the fundamental structure of Zimbabwe.
To them Mr Tsvangirai has shown time and again that he lacks the qualities of leadership. They say he is a man of empty words. They cited the dismal ritual whereby Mr Tsvangirai threatens to boycott every election — and then (almost) always contests anyway. As a consequence, Mr Tsvangirai has torn his credibility to shreds.
To MDC-T members Mr Tsvangirai has lost three presidential elections in a row. In the normal run of politics, a three-time loser would stand down, they say.
The most recent leadership failure that has angered MDC-T members is Mr Tsvangirai’s decision to withdraw the Constitutional Court case challenging the election results. The majority of the national council wanted the party to see the case through even though it was obvious that they had no case.
His failure to stamp out widespread corruption within his party has been cited by his enemies as one of the major reasons he lost the elections. Some MDC-T politicians were caught up in corruption scandals while in government, but Mr Tsvangirai did not punish them and this made some to doubt his competency.
His personal life has been a source of embarrassment as well. His wife Susan died in a car accident in 2009 and his romantic life since has been the subject of extensive news coverage, much to his party’s chagrin. When he was planning to marry Elizabeth Macheka, his current wife, another woman challenged, claiming that she had been married to Mr Tsvangirai in a traditional ceremony in 2011.The matter ended up in court, with a magistrate ruling that Mr Tsvangirai was in fact already married under customary law. He was forced to cancel plans for a legal wedding, and instead called the ceremony last September a celebration.
Another woman also filed court papers, claiming that she and Mr Tsvangirai had been engaged. Mr Tsvangirai did not respond to repeated interview requests, but he apologised publicly to supporters for his messy search for a new wife, saying: “I had no intention to hurt anyone. It was a genuine search.”
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